Georgia primary on Tuesday–one of the nation’s most-watched and competitive midterm battles–brings a few issues to their long-awaited conclusion.

First and foremost, all those unending robocalls, texts, cut-throat TV ads, and mailboxes stuffed with political circulars -–at least until fall. And it will hopefully shed light on two other pressing issues.

Does Donald Trump have the political kahunas to upend Georgia? The former president is backing a slate of candidates that include David Perdue for governor, Jody Hice for secretary of state, and Herschel Walker for U.S. Senate. This midterm is a litmus test for Trump’s political prowess in critical swing states like Georgia.

And does our newly overhauled election system have what it takes to restore voter confidence? County election offices encountered a few technical glitches and outages that were outside their control, along with redistricting mixups, during early voting, but still managed to accommodate record voter turnout.

We should have a good idea within the next 24 hours, runoffs notwithstanding. 

This much is certain: Voters will have their say about the topsy-turvy tumult that has marked American politics and democracy over the last two years. 

Tuesday’s Democratic ballot carried a little surprise for one voter. “I noticed there was a legalization of marijuana referendum,” Hampton voter DeWayne Martin told Atlanta Civic Circle. “I wasn’t expecting that. That was something different.”  

Atlanta Civic Circle caught up with Martin and other voters on Tuesday. Here’s what they had to say. 

Lori Martin

LORI MARTIN

Age: 36

Occupation: Freelance writer

Town: Fayetteville

Did you vote in the Democratic or Republican primary? I’m an independent, but I voted in the Republican primary. I think it’s important because you can get rid of the skanks. 

Did you have trouble voting? No, but [the precinct setup] was very open. There’s no curtain. It felt like if somebody wanted to see how you’re voting, they could. 

What brought you out to vote? It’s my civic duty to vote.

How confident are you that this will be a fraud-free, accurate primary? I don’t think [fraud is] happening in Georgia, but I just got here in September from New Jersey so what do I know?

Do you trust the voting process? I don’t have the same kind of fears a lot of people have on mail-in voting. I was in New Jersey and it had to be done up there because people were literally dropping like flies [from COVID-19]. You sign it on the outside and send it in. I don’t know what it’s like down here. The process in other states is solid.

Is American democracy in trouble? We are definitely in trouble. If you look at newspaper articles, the wording is almost identical, even to the prepositions. That means there’s only one voice. If we only have one source of news, how can we see another side? It’s difficult for anyone to have an opinion right now that is contrary without getting shouted down. People are so angry. Anytime you can’t have civil discourse, democracy is challenged.

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SHANNON DUZAN-FOWLER 

Shannon Duzan-Fowler

Age: 52

Occupation: Realtor

Town: Fayetteville

Did you vote in the Democratic or Republican primary? Republican

Did you have trouble voting? No.

What brought you out to vote? No particular issue.

How confident are you that this will be a fraud-free, accurate primary? Pretty confident

Do you trust the voting process? I used to trust the process more than I do now. I had some issues with the last presidential election–staying up watching for the results and seeing Fulton County close the polls because of a water pipe leak, when it was really just a toilet that overflowed. I thought that was pretty suspicious.

Is American democracy in trouble? It always has been since the beginning. That’s just what happens when you have people who have a right to voice their opinions. That is the irony of democracy.

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Raul Rojas

RAUL ROJAS

Age: 59 

Occupation: Retired airline inspector

Town: Fayetteville

Did you vote in the Democratic or Republican primary? Republican. I’m a Republican who’s a little bit liberal.

Did you have trouble voting? No.

What brought you out to vote? No particular issue. I vote 99% of the time.

How confident are you that this will be a fraud-free, accurate primary? I’m a lot more confident this time around that it will be a good fair election. They seem to have more protection on the actual ballot. And I’m all for showing your ID or maybe even scanning your ID and sending it to them. 

Do you trust the voting process? Yes.

Is American democracy in trouble? That’s why I vote. Overall, we should respect what we believe and what others believe.

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ROSCOE FOSTER 

Age: 80

Occupation: Retired truck driver and rental property maintenance 

Town: Jonesboro

Did you vote in the Democratic or Republican primary? Republican

Did you have trouble voting? No.

What brought you out to vote? Inflation’s a problem for everybody.

How confident are you that this will be a fraud-free, accurate primary? This time, I think we’re going to have a problem-free election.

Do you trust the voting process? The process looks a whole lot better.

Is American democracy in trouble? I don’t think so.

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Liz Russell-Sow

LIZ RUSSELL-SOW 

Age: 59

Occupation: Traffic specialist for Gray Television

Town: Fayetteville

Did you vote in the Democratic or Republican primary? Democratic

Did you have trouble voting? No. I was pleasantly surprised at how streamlined everything is since the last time I voted about a year ago.

What brought you out to vote? Nothing in particular. I knew there was a TSPLOST vote.

How confident are you that this will be a fraud-free, accurate primary? I feel optimistic and hopeful. I will say it’ll be fair.

Do you trust the voting process? For the most part, I do. But, based on the last elections and allegations, I realize there are things that can change an election one way or the other. I was flabbergasted in the [2020] presidential election [to learn Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to ask him to “find” more votes]. I just pray that was an exception and not the rule. I hope we have people in place who can prevent problems.Is American democracy in trouble? Oh boy, that’s a very loaded question. I do feel it’s a bit in jeopardy. I’ve seen a lot of things that I wouldn’t have thought would happen in the last couple of years–changes taking place such as [threats to] Roe v. Wade.

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CARL PALMER 

Age: 59

Occupation: Security guard

Did you vote in the Democratic or Republican primary? Democratic by mail

Did you have trouble voting? No. 

How confident are you that this will be a fraud-free, accurate primary? I have no proof that it’s going to be accurate or not. I’m on the fence.

Do you trust the voting process? I’m not 100% confident that it’s an honest process, but I can’t prove that. I may keep my ear on social media too much. Opinions can influence you too much.

 Is American democracy in trouble? Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. I want to say it’s not, but it could be. 

CHARLIE ECHOLS 

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Charlie Echols

Age: 56

Occupation: Sales

Did you vote in the Democratic or Republican primary? Republican

Did you have trouble voting? No.

How confident are you that this will be a fraud-free, accurate primary? Very confident

Do you trust the voting process? Yes.

Is American democracy in trouble? No.

People who didn’t want their picture taken, but wanted to be heard:

TIM BARRETT 

Age: 49

Occupation: Hospitality

Town: Atlanta

Did you vote in the Democratic or Republican primary? Democratic

Did you have trouble voting? No.

How confident are you that this will be a fraud-free, accurate primary? Confident

Do you trust the voting process? No.

Is American democracy in trouble? Probably. Yes … Potentially. I’m concerned about a prevalence of misinformation that continues to pollute the process. There’s a lot of rhetoric directed toward and centered around certain populations. That leads to unfair trust in some sources, like Fox News and others.

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DEWAYNE MARTIN 

Age: 49

Occupation: Educator

Town: Hampton

Did you vote in the Democratic or Republican primary? Democratic

What brought you out to vote? Taxes, and tax incentives for families with children and for infrastructure. 

Did you have trouble voting? No.

Do you trust the voting process? I’m pretty confident the process is still strong. I like the double-check on the paper ballots, I like to see the screen read ‘successful cast’ of the ballot. So I do trust the electoral process. Now, it gets a little hairy on a national level because we’re sending representatives to cast our votes. I’m not so sure that’s the best method.

Is American democracy in trouble? When it’s practiced true-to-form, then the answer would be no. But when we have businesses that control much of our economy, it becomes more oligarchical.

Meredith Hobbs contributed to this report.

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